Osamu Dazai Residence partly Re-created at Tokyo Gallery

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A woman sits at a writing desk inside the re-created study of Osamu Dazai at the Mitaka City Gallery of Art in Mitaka, Tokyo.

An exhibition space re-creating part of the residence of novelist Osamu Dazai (1909-1948) has opened at a gallery in front of JR Mitaka Station in Mitaka, Tokyo.

The space at the Mitaka City Gallery of Art is called “Mitaka no kono Chiisai Ie” (This little house in Mitaka) and includes a tatami-mat room simulating Dazai’s study, where he wrote many works. Visitors can enter the room and feel like they are reliving Dazai’s life.

Dazai started renting the house in September 1939. Apart from the period when he evacuated Tokyo during the Pacific War, Dazai continued living there until June 1948, when he committed suicide by jumping into the Tamagawa Josui aqueduct.

He is said to have written about 90 of his approximately 150 works at this house, which had a floor space of about 12 tsubo, or roughly 40 square meters.

Along with the study, the house’s entrance hall is also recreated at the gallery. A writing desk in the study looks like the one from Dazai’s time, based on a description of the house written by a pupil of his and other sources. On the desk is a copy of the manuscript of Dazai’s essay “Daion wa Katarazu” (No talk about big kindness), which was written in the house in Mitaka. Visitors can copy the essay on paper provided on the desk.

The exhibition also displays about 50 items related to the novelist, such as manuscripts written during his time in Mitaka, drawings by Dazai, victim’s certificates after the house was damaged in the war, and his photos taken in Mitaka.

There is also a nameplate at the entrance made out of a reused box for sweets. It’s inscribed with his real name, Shuji Tsushima, accompanied by Osamu Dazai in brackets.

In 2014, the Tsushima family donated Dazai’s effects from his Mitaka years to the city, which led to the opening of the exhibition space. “I hope it provides a good opportunity for visitors to get to know Osamu Dazai as a family man and a father,” said Jun Tsushima, Dazai’s grandson.

The name of the exhibition space is a quote from the novel “Dare” (Who) by Dazai. It reads, “Mitaka no kono chiisai ie wa watashi no shigotoba dearu” (This little house in Mitaka is my workplace).

“I want it to be a place where you can appreciate the feelings of Dazai and his pupils,” said Mami Yoshinaga, 42, a curator in charge of the space.

Admission is free. The exhibition is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and closed on Mondays. If a Monday falls a national holiday, it will be open on Monday and closed the following two days. Call (0422) 79-0033 for more information.